Mark Simmonds, Minister for Consular Affairs, said:
I was very concerned to see an increase in child abduction cases. Parental child abduction has a devastating emotional impact on the child as well as the taking parent and the parent left behind. It can do lasting damage to a child’s relationship with both parents and their happiness. These are often distressing cases for everyone involved and there are no easy fixes, but our staff around the world work hard to assist those parents left behind.
We are launching this awareness campaign in the lead up to Christmas to try to prevent parents from doing something that would cause significant distress to themselves, their family and most importantly to the child. We also encourage parents to look for warning signs that their partner may be considering this. Once children are taken overseas it can be extremely difficult to secure their return to the UK. Many parents are not aware that by abducting their child, they may be committing a crime.
Top 10 Hague countries children have been abducted to*** Number of cases 2012/13 Top 10 countries children have been abducted to where Hague returns aren’t available Number of cases 2012/13 USA 32 Pakistan 35 Poland 29 Thailand 17 Ireland 28 India 16 Germany 18 Japan 11 France 12 Morocco 10 Canada 11 Egypt 8 South Africa 10 United Arab Emirates 8 Spain 10 Philippines 7 Australia 9 Oman 5 Turkey 8 Afghanistan 5
Parental child abduction cases can take years to resolve, with significant impact on the child or children involved. There is a very real possibility that the child may never be returned. Even when cases are resolved it can take up to 10 years, with a devastating impact on the child, parents and families involved.
There is no typical ‘abducting parent’ – although abductions are more likely to take place where families have links to more than one country and, contrary to popular opinion, it is more likely to be the mother who abducts than the father (approximately 70% of abducting parents are mothers).
It is also much harder to return a child from a country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention, an international agreement between certain countries which aims to ensure the return of a child who has been abducted by a parent. The table below illustrates the most common Hague and non-Hague countries that children are abducted to.
As well as emotional distress, both parents may often face severe financial difficulties as they fight for custody of their child through foreign courts. Legal costs overseas and in the UK may continue to mount up for parents, who must bear responsibility for the cost of any legal action taken, even after the child is returned to this country.
Please contact Abducted Angels a charity that provides advice and support to parents involved in parental child abduction cases. CEO – Sean Felton firstname.lastname@example.org
***Based on figures provided by the 1980 Hague Central Authority for England and Wales, Scottish 1980 Hague Central Authority and the 1980 Hague Central Authority in Northern Ireland
Source: FCO UK